Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children

Number 187

Dr Samuel Johnson



Hello Everyone




When you come across a new word, do you look it up in a dictionary?


No? Well you should!


Dictionaries are very important tools to help you learn. You should never let new words get away from you. Track them down – and find them in a dictionary.


Always have a dictionary to hand when you are doing your homework so that you can increase your word power and your ability to be more self-sufficient in your studies – this gives you better grades!


smile1 (2)


There is a very interesting house in London that is tucked away in a back street. Unless you knew where to look, you would not see it passing on any main highway. Step into it and you step back in time.


lt is lucky to have survived for so long because many of the buildings of that age in London have gone.


lt was the house of Dr. Samuel Johnson. This is a name you may not have heard of; but his legacy (what he left to the world) is still known to us today. He wrote the most famous dictionary of his era.


The house he lived in is in Gough Square.


Let me tell you his story…


He was born in Litchfield, Staffordshire in 1709 during the reign of Queen Anne. As a child he overcame many problems with ill health. He was blind in one eye and had poor hearing because of a terrible disease called scrofula that he had contracted as a baby, and yet, he grew up to be one of the most important men of his time.


His father was a book seller, so he grew up surrounded by books and loved learning from them. He went to Oxford University to study when he was older but had to leave because his parents couldn’t afford to keep him there. This upset him a great deal.


He went back home and shortly afterwards his father died. He was expected to take over his father’s business but he decided it was not for him; he wanted to be more than a shop keeper.


When he was 25 he married a widow of 46.


He tried becoming a school teacher, even opening his own school with his wife’s money, but that didn’t work out either. He did not have a university qualification which meant it was difficult to find a job, and his appearance (because of scarring from his illness) and strange mannerisms (he twitched a lot) meant it was difficult to get respect from his students – or even their parents.


So in 1737, he walked all the way to London to seek his fortune.


There, he lived in many places, and was always short of money.


He managed to earn some money as a writer of book reviews and poems and became a journalist writing reports of debates in Parliament. He also wrote some biographies (life stories) of poets as well as some essays of his own.


But by far his most famous work was A Dictionary of the English Language.


A group of publishers asked him to write it for them.


lt took him over eight years to write, and he employed six assistants to help him. They all worked in his house in Gough Square near Fleet Street.


The dictionary, once completed, was published on 15th April 1755. lt was not the first dictionary to be printed, but it was the most important one of the time; it offered very good definitions of words and standardized spelling.


Of course, if you are not good at spellings, you may not think it was a good idea that standard spelling was ever invented! smile1 (2)


Five further versions were published during Johnson’s lifetime and another one when he died.


Johnson’s dictionary was one of the most important books ever written.


This is because it brought order and definition to the English language; although some of the definitions he decided upon seem quite strange to us today.


The most famous is probably:


Oats: A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.


Not every word in the language was included; and many words that were included we would not recognise today such as jobbernowl which meant idiot or bedpresser which meant a lazy person.


(Bill and Bob have decided to start using these words again. smile1 (2))


Despite the success of the dictionary, Johnson still had money problems. But in 1762, King George lll gave him some money which meant he was able to travel and spend time socializing in clubs and pubs where he spent time with famous writers and artists of the age.


Johnson became one of the most famous writers of the 17oos. He was a huge man, a very colourful character, sometimes quite argumentative but he was also very famous for his conversation, humour and wit. He befriended many famous artists and writers in London and also spent quite a lot of time living in Edinburgh.


Today, he is the second most quoted English man after Shakespeare. That means people repeat things that he once said because they think they were wise and meaningful.


His most famous quote is ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. lt meant that because there was so much to do in London and it was also full of intellectual people, if you couldn’t find anything interesting to do or any interesting people to talk to there, you must have become very tired of living altogether.


Johnson’s wife died in 1752 and shortly afterwards Francis Barber, a former slave from Jamaica joined the household as a servant. He continued to live there for over thirty years and became Johnson’s heir when he died in 1784.


There are still over 1700 Johnson’s definitions we use in our dictionaries today.


He was a strange and eccentric man in some ways, but through the great strength of character needed to overcome illness, disability, humble beginnings, poverty, failure and disappointment he eventually became known for creating a work of genius with great historical significance.


smile1 (2)


During the Second World War, 17 Gough Square was used as unofficial barracks by auxiliary (extra) firemen. There, they could find a meal or just a cup of tea and some company.


They put on concerts twice a month and made toys for children and stored them in the house.


The house was hit by an incendiary bomb (a weapon designed to start fires) in 1944. The roof was badly damaged but the rest of the house was saved.


Now, there is a wooden model of a toy workshop in a case displayed in the attic. The fire service made it from blitzed wood from the Woolwich Arsenal. There is also a picture of some musicians giving a concert.


The house is open for anyone to go and see. lt has five floors including a garret (large attic) and a basement. Check out the website if you would like to visit.



Bye bye everyone – don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!


lf you like my blog, please support it by telling all your friends and followers about it.


Thank you!


And see you again next Fun Friday!


Love and kisses



Salty Sam







Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Weekjokejoke


Bob: Do you know which word is always spelt incorrectly?


Bill: No. Which word is always spelt incorrectly?


Bob: lncorrectly!




Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

Links may be used to



Picture Gallery



A portrait of Johnson painted by his friend Joshua Reynolds



Elizabeth Porter, the woman he married



The house in Litchfield where Johnson was born



Johnson’s school – Edial Hall School did not succeed because there were not enough pupils



Francis Barber



Queen Anne



King George III



St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most famous buildings in The City



This is the cathedral that Samuel Johnson would have known



Follow the street in front of the cathedral and you will find Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese –

a local pub that Samuel Johnson frequented



The Cheshire Cheese is a short walk from 17 Gough Square



Take a turning off Fleet Street



Follow the alley



Samuel Johnson’s house is still to be found



It overlooks Gough Square



This was the house where his famous dictionary was written



Gough Square from the top window



Opposite the house is a statue of his much loved cat Hodge

Johnson used to often buy him oysters because he loved them so much



People in Georgian London were very keen on security measures – the shutters on the windows were closed up and locked every night, sometimes a servant would even sleep behind the front door. You can see a little door beside the right of the front door here – this was a peep hole – it enabled the occupants to see who was at the front door before they opened it.



The front hallway



A room on the ground floor



The rooms contain many pictures of Dr Johnson because he had so many friends who were painters



The first floor front window



The parlour is divided into the Anna Williams room and the withdrawing room



This room is dedicated to Dr Johnson’s female friends –

he liked intelligent women and believed girls should have an equal education to boys –

this was quite modern thinking for the time

The writer Elizabeth Carter was one of his friends;

she was an educated woman who had learnt more than nine languages



Elizabeth Carter was the most successful 18th century classicist – this cabinet contains many of her books



In Dr Johnson’s day men and women separated after dinner –

women would withdraw from the dining table to go to another room called the withdrawing room



Many pictures of friends adorn the walls

After Dr Johnson’s wife died he liked to fill his house with friends for fear of being alone –

and the gatherings often became extremely rowdy



This is his drinking chair from the Old Cock Tavern



Dr Johnson had a yen to visit the Great Wall of China –

it looks as though part of it made its way to his house instead!



On the second floor is The Will Room containing Dr Johnson’s will

An enormous hand-written will is displayed on the wall naming Francis Barber as his heir



A painting of Dr Johnson with friends



On the second floor is also a library



The rooms are full of light



There are many books to look at



This is a letter written to Oliver Goldsmith on 23rd April 1773



The third floor contains the garret where so many worked on the dictionary



There are reproductions of the famous dictionary for people to look at



Some of Dr Johnson’s possessions are on display



The garret is flooded with light



A charred beam left from the 1944 attack



A Second World War incendiary bomb


image100 The model made by the firemen



The landscape around the house changed greatly after the war











Auntie Alice has been making some paperclip book marks this week.


Auntie Alice

Auntie Alice


They make really good cracker presents – and you can personalize them.


If you would like to make some yourself, this is how it is done.







  1. Cut out two heart shaped pieces of felt about 4 – 4¼cm/1¾ inches across and about the same dimensions in height – cut out a paper or thin card template first, (fold it in half to check the two sides match) pin this to the felt and squash it tightly to the felt as you cut to get crisp and even edges.
  2. Sew the top of a paperclip to the back of the bottom point of the front heart – sew on using small stitches but make sure the clip is secure.
  3. Cut out a circle of felt 2¾cm/1⅛ inches across in a contrasting colour by using a paper or thin card template.




  1. Embroider a design on this circle. It could be:
    • An abstract design
    • A flower
    • A face
    • An arrow pointing downwards
    • An initial
  2. Catch stitch the circle onto the heart to cover the stitching securing the paperclip.
  3. Sew the back heart onto the front heart around the two edges – the paper clip will be sandwiched between the two halves.











crafty tip

Crafty Tip


lf you like reading books in the garden, you may take sunglasses with you.


This twittering birds-on-a-wire sunglasses case is easy to make.








  1. Cut a piece of felt for the outside of the case 20cm wide by 24cm in height.
  2. Cut a piece of felt for the inside of the case 15cm wide by 22cm in height.
  3. (Make the case bigger if it won’t be big enough for your glasses).
  4. Draw 3 faint pencil lines across the width of the case.
  5. Chain stitch along these lines neatly using grey thread – use running stitch or back stitch if you would like to use a simpler stitch.
  6. Cut some bird-shaped pieces of felt the right size to fit along your wires – cut a pattern in paper first to check the shape and size.
  7. Anchor the birds onto the case by using two strands of embroidery thread to make French knot eyes and straight stitch beaks.
  8. Use one strand of embroidery thread to make wing detail – the birds should now be firmly anchored to the base.
  9. To secure the birds completely, sew around the birds using tiny over-sew stitches.
  10. Sew the inner case along base and up the side.
  11. Wrap the outer case with the birds on it around the inner case with the side seam on the other side.
  12. Over-sew the base and side seam.
  13. Then sew around the rim of the top of the case sewing inner and outer layers together – the inner case will stop the glasses snagging on the back of your stitch work.





The outside of this case is white and the inside pale blue, but you could have pink birds on a blue sky. The inside and outside could be the same colour.

lf the birds will be too small for you to work with, draw two lines and make bigger birds.

lf that is still too fiddly for you, you could use the design to put on the front of a cushion cover instead.

Remember that if you wish to wash any item made with felt; you will need to buy washable felt.




















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lt’s the Weekend!






If your doll has a job, she needs to look smart for it. This is a very smart outfit for working in town.





Using 3¼mm knitting needles and green 4ply yarn cast on 21 stitches


Knit 6 rows of 1 x 1 rib


P6, k1, p3, k1, p3, k1, p6

K6, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k6


Repeat the last 2 rows 8 times


Knit 1 row, knit 1 row, knit 1 row, knit 1 row


Cast off



Using 3¼mm knitting needles and green 4ply yarn cast on 18 stitches


Knit 1 row, knit 1 row


Knit 12 rows of stocking stitch


Cast off



Sew shoulder seams.

Sew the tops of the sleeves to the shoulders.

Sew underarm seams and side seams.





Using 4mm knitting needles and black dk yarn cast on 22 stitches


Purl 1 row

Knit 1 row

Knit 22 rows of stocking stitch starting with a knit row


Change to 3½mm knitting needles

Work 1 x 1 rib for 4 rows

Cast off rib-wise

Sew up back seam





Using 4mm knitting needles and black dk yarn cast on 14 stitches


Purl 1 row

Knit 1 row

Knit 28 rows of stocking stitch starting with a knit row


Purl 1 row

Knit 1 row

Cast off knit-wise



Using 4mm knitting needles and black dk yarn cast on 10 stitches


Purl 1 row

Knit 1 row

Increase 1 stitch at the beginning of the next row knit to end

Increase 1 stitch at the beginning of the next row purl to end

Knit 18 rows of stocking stitch starting with a knit row (20 rows of stocking stitch)

Cast off LOOSELY



Using 4mm knitting needles and black dk yarn cast on 10 stitches


Purl 1 row

Knit 1 row


Knit 1 row

Slip 1, knit 2, purl to end

Repeat the last 2 rows 13 times


Purl 1 row

Knit 1 row

Cast off knit-wise



Using 4mm knitting needles and black dk yarn cast on 10 stitches


Purl 1 row

Knit 1 row


Slip 1, knit to end

Purl to last 3 stitches, knit 3

Repeat the last 2 rows 13 times


Purl 1 row

Knit 1 row

Cast off knit-wise



Run an end of yarn along the front edges of jacket with a knitter’s yarn needle to neaten.

Sew shoulders of fronts to back 2cm/¾ inch up from arm end.

Sew tops of sleeves to body.

Sew under arm seams and side seams.

Sew snap fasteners to front of jacket with buttons on top edge.





Using 4mm knitting needles and black dk yarn cast on 10 stitches

Garter stitch 22 rows

Cast off

Sew side seams

Make a strap with 22 crocheted chains in a length of yarn to match bag




*Over-sew all seams to reduce bulk.




Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.

It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.

Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.

©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015sand








Salty Sam says always use a dictionary to look up any new words that you come across.




For an Embroidery Stitches Chart

Check out Blog Post 3scroll

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